Dr. Russell Greenfield: Prevention and early detection where treatment can be cured of are the best ways to help limit the impact of most health disorders. But one of the most widely used screening tests doesn't always serve the patient well.
The Prostate Specific Antigen or PSA test was not originally designed as a screening test. Over a period of years it became used in combination with the ever popular Digital Rectal Examination to help detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages.
Indeed, the PSA test often helped identify early prostate cancer. But the results caused problems for many others. Why? Because an elevated PSA is widely interpreted to mean cancer is present. In fact, that's not necessarily so.
Relying too heavily on PSA test results can lead to unnecessary testing, some of it invasive and even unnecessary treatment. In both cases, side effects are common.
So should men over age 40 have a PSA test done? Ask your doctor what might be right specifically for you. Some men maybe at higher risk for prostate cancer based on family history or ethnicity, in which case a PSA test maybe recommended. Others should be screened in other ways.
Your doctor can help you make the best decision, but you need to ask. I'm Dr. Russ. Be well!